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Despite Collin County Health Care Services’ and Curative Medical Associates’ vaccination site blunder at John Clark Stadium Feb. 4, McKinney’s vaccination center has been running almost flawlessly, in part, thanks to the McKinney Fire Department.

Fire rescue professionals have been working 10 hour days to “put together the entire system” at the McKinney ISD football stadium, McKinney Mayor George Fuller says, even though none had previous experience to build one. 

Fuller points out that the only minor problems they have had is with Collin County’s waitlist and low vaccine supply from the state. 

“I get nothing but praise for our staff after a resident experience once they go in for their vaccination,” he says. “I truly cannot praise our fire department staff enough. They are doing all they are doing while performing their everyday work and responsibilities.”

Waitlist surge

While CCHCS and the City of McKinney are not the only places throughout Collin County distributing vaccines, they are two of only three locations using the county’s waitlist to schedule appointments. Texas Health Resources is the third entity using the county’s waitlist to distribute vaccines at the Sam Johnson Recreation Center in Plano.

The county’s waitlist was launched on Jan. 5 for residents who met the Texas Department of Health State Services’ 1A, health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities, and 1B, those over 65 and those 16 or older with chronic medical conditions, categories. Thousands of people quickly signed up online.

Not surprisingly, the waitlist started causing problems at the CCHCS site. One of the main reasons Curative’s staff cut the line off early Feb. 4 was because many people who showed up were not on the county’s waitlist, and others were on the waitlist but not arriving at their appointed time.

Commissioners held a special meeting Feb. 5 in response to the problems at CCHCS’ site. Miranda Gottlieb, vice president of marketing for Curative, said Curative’s other vaccination sites around the country weren’t having any problems. The real difference between Collin County’s vaccination site and the others was working off a waitlist rather than a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Three days later, commissioners decided to temporarily suspend new signups on the waitlist due to a severe back up. Since then, the waitlist has stayed at 275,056 people. 

“It is hard working off a mega list, as at least half the people notified did not respond,” Fuller says. “Maybe they’ve gotten the vaccine already. Maybe they’ve decided against it, or maybe they just are not able to respond for some other reason. This makes scheduling a challenge, but we are working through it well.”

Where’s the vaccine?

The site’s other issue — low vaccine supply — is, sadly, out of the county’s hands. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ultimately decides how many are given per week based on population, according to DSHS’ website.

Then, DSHS staff presents possibilities for vaccine distribution to the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. This panel, made up of state legislators, epidemiologists and health experts, makes recommendations on the amount. The commissioner of health makes the final decision on how many vaccines the site will distribute each week. 

As a whole, Collin County received about 42,900 vaccine doses for the week of Feb. 1, according to a Jan. 29 CCHCS press release

However, for the same week, CCHCS received 9,750 vaccine doses, McKinney received 7,800 doses. Texas Health Resources also provided 3,300 vaccine appointments from the county’s waitlist, according to a Feb. 3 CCHCS press release.

It is unclear how many they’ve received since then. The winter storm no doubt held up the vaccine. But there is no doubt that the McKinney community will be there to help Fuller and the firefighters distribute the vaccine.

“I want to pause and share with everyone the overwhelming outreach from our community I have received from so many wanting to help during these times of difficulty,” Fuller wrote in a recent Facebook post.

“How can I volunteer and help with the vaccination process?” they ask.

“This is the question I get every day,” he continued. “…The list goes on and on, compassionate and caring people in our community rising above all the noise out there, simply wanting to help their neighbor.

“Regarding volunteering, there are some liability issues to work out, but we are discussing a process to sign up eligible volunteers and I will share shortly. Thank you!!!”

Bailey Lewis

Bailey Lewis is a freelance journalist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and served as the news editor and enterprise editor of the OU Daily. Previously,...